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August 15, 2013Mike Hines
Note: Effective 08-26-2015 Free App of the Day (FAD) has been replaced with Amazon Underground.
Occasionally, we'll have a developer ask if the financial benefit of participating in the FAD program is worth it. Will it help them ultimately grow their app revenue?
Below is a guest post by Tasharen Entertainment, a small independent developer in Toronto that created Starlink – a strategy game – available in the Amazon Appstore, Google Play and the Apple App Store. They recently issued a blog post highlighting their success with the Free App of the Day program and we thought we’d share it with you. It’s always compelling to see a developer try something new, measure the actual results across several app stores and find out their test was successful. The article was originally posted on Tasharen’s blog post here.
Starlink has recently participated in the Free App of the Day promotion on the Amazon App Store. Before joining the promotion I did my research, and saw that there was some controversy about it, but I went for it anyway. Two weeks later, I am happy to share the results.
With Starlink being a rather obscure strategy game released with zero marketing a few months ago, its player base has been expectedly small: of the 2500 players before the promotion, around 80% were pirates who got it for free. Number of daily players was around 100 — which was actually a fairly high percentage, all things considered. The sales died down quickly after the release. I think the “best” day earned around $65 in sales, but the average daily income since release has been around $10 — a rather sad amount. Nonetheless, factoring the fact that Starlink is a first game I’ve released on the mobile platforms, and that an average first-time release is only expected to earn around $500 during its lifetime, Starlink’s ~$1400 lifetime income was actually already ahead of the curve.
Enter the Amazon’s Free App of the Day promotion. The process was started by Amazon themselves who got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested — I said of course. After some emails back and forth, the date was assigned: July 19th — a Friday. Perfect for a game!
On that day, over 102,000 players have downloaded the game. North American rating of the game averaged at 3.5/5, with the majority being along the lines of “I don’t get it”, complaining about the sparse tutorial and the game being too difficult even on the beginner difficulty. Curiously enough, Japanese players rated the game 4.5/5.0 (over 7500 downloads). Apparently Japanese players had an easier time understanding an English-language game than native English speakers!
After the promotion I wanted to wait two weeks to see the effect the promotion would have on the sales of the game on all of the platforms it was available on. Now, keep in mind. I myself did nothing. I didn’t say the app would be promoted, didn’t release any news about it, no new videos, nothing! I wanted to see the raw effect the promotion would have. Some of you may go “wtf” at this, but keep in mind — Starlink for me is, and always has been — an experiment. My goal has never been to make it the next Angry Birds, but to experiment with the different platforms, methods of monetization, cross-promotion, etc.
So here is the raw effect of the promotion. Before the 19th, the statistics looked like this:
Two weeks later, the statistics seem a lot healthier:
Total estimated income for the 2 week period immediately following the promotion: $1,385, or almost the same amount of money they game has earned in the 3 months leading up to the promotion.
So the obvious question is — from my point of view, was the promotion worth it?
And the answer is a resounding “Yes“! And if you are an indie dev who’s considering participating in the Amazon’s Free App of the Day, here’s a small suggestion for you: don’t concern yourself with the players who will obtain your game for free. Instead, think of all the players that will follow and will buy your game based on the attention it will receive and the word-of-mouth talk that will follow.
Or in other words, think of it as free marketing done right.
If you have an interesting story or experience to share with other developers through a guest post on our blog, email us at mobile-app-marketing(at)amazon.com for consideration.